I take off my shoes and socks and walk along the sand and pebble beach, feeling the waves gently washing over my toes. I kneel at the riverbank, dipping my hand into the cool flow. I stand in the rain, arms outstretched, millions of droplets falling and breaking against my skin. I fill a glass from the tap and drink.
Water is the second element I am planning on spending time with on my “journey through the elements” which is currently making up a large part of my Druid practice. I’ve written about the first of these, Earth, in another post.
Water is the central ingredient for life as we know it. We are about 60% water, and the planet we live on is 70% water. From space, the earth is blue. Perhaps it should be called “planet water” instead.
Life evolved first in water, we are all descended from creatures who lived underwater lives in ancient oceans. And, for many of us, water still holds a great attraction. We put ponds in our gardens, we picnic by lakes and rivers, we flock to the seaside for our summer holidays.
And for many people around the world, from sub-Saharan Africa to Flint, Michigan or Standing Rock, access to clean, safe water to drink is under threat by human greed. It has been suggested that wars of the future will be fought over water, not oil.
Connecting with water means standing in support of the human right to water around the globe. Water is Life is a charity that supports clean water and sanitation, and is well worth checking out.
Esoterically, water is associated with the unconscious and with emotion. I’ve always tended to view emotions with suspicion, but I am increasingly seeing their importance. To love is a revolutionary act.
In the Druid tradition, water is also associated with wisdom. The Salmon of Wisdom swims in the sacred waters of the pool of Segais, the source of five streams, which correspond to the five senses. Watery wisdom is sensual wisdom, not detached rationality.
So to connect with water, I recently went to the coast and watched the waves roused by a November storm. I often walk down to my local river, and sit and observe the flow, the changes of water level after rain, the creatures that depend on this river for their home and life. It’s getting on for winter, which in the region I live, means rain and lots of it, so there’s plenty of water around to connect with.
I’m also trying to drink more water, as I tend to get pretty dehydrated during a typical working day. However, I have a reusable metal bottle and I am making sure to fill it from the tap. Bottled water is not only a ludicrous luxury, it is an environmental disaster, leading to water shortages in its source areas and mountains of plastic waste being dumped into landfill. If you live in a country with safe tap water, please use it!
In terms of practical action, I’m looking at limiting my household water use. I have toilets that allow for a reduced flush option, and a washing machine that can be set for smaller loads to use less water. I’m spending less time in the shower, and making sure to only use the water I need for washing and cooking. Over the summer, I planted some pretty hardy plants in the garden that don’t need much water, and also put bark down on the flowerbeds which helps trap moisture and keep them from drying out.
If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.
Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;
My liturgy would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,
And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.